It could take 20 years to make any difference to certain parts of Limavady where people have some of the worst job prospects and health in Northern Ireland.
The stark warning was made by an official at the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council as politicians discussed how to target deprived estates for help.
With projects like this it can be a 20-year period before you can see change. Generally there are positive outcomesPaul Beattie, Development Manager, Causeway Coast and Glens Council
Shock statistics, first published by the Sentinel in September, show that most areas of Limavady are ranked with the most deprived 20 per cent of places in Northern Ireland in terms of health, education and employment.
In one area of Limavady, a shocking 40 per cent have never been in employment. Three quarters of areas in Limavady suffer from deprivation - defined in terms of employment, education and health.
The new council, which has taken over responsibility for neighbourhood renewal from Stormont, now has £1.5 million in their coffers to tackle deprivation across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough.
Neighbourhood renewal programmes currently target only the most deprived 10 per cent of areas in Northern Ireland - including the Coolessan, Roeside and Greystone areas of Limavady.
The new council has proposed expanding their approach to take in the most deprived 20 per cent.
A council report on deprivation, details of which were published by the Sentinel in September, shows that of the 28 ‘small areas’ that make up Limavady, 21 are amongst the most deprived 20 per cent.
Councillors discussed this week how best to disperse funding across the most deprived areas in the Causeway Coast and Glens council area.
Around £1.55m of funding will be transferred and the allocation to projects from the current programme is around £1m, leaving a further £500,000 for new projects under a further programme,
Officers asked the Leisure and Development committee to consider expanding the scheme to take in areas that are amongst the worst-off 15 per cent in Northern Ireland or the worst-off 20 per cent.
This would expand the programme from areas limited to Limavady and Coleraine to areas dotted throughout the vast new council area.
Councillor Dermot Nicholl proposed the Committee looked at the 20 per cent as it covered most of the areas in the new council, adding: “We are here to respect all the areas in this council.”
Councillor Boyd Douglas commented: “Is there any indication that areas funded in the past have benefited? Why pump money continuously into these areas? Will they always be deprived?
Paul Beattie, Development Manager, responded: “With projects like this it can be a 20-year period before you can see change. Generally there are positive outcomes as they affect family learning, health, education.”
Councillor Trevor Clarke voiced his concerns saying: “I believe spreading it from 10 per cent to 20 per cent will dilute the work that is being done and gives me grounds for concern and I recommend that it remains at 10 per cent.”
Councillor Darryl Wilson added; “I am worried that communities will become isolated if we retain the 10 per cent. I can see 20 per cent serving as a type of maintenance and I believe we should go for 20 per cent and spread it across the borough. I think it would be a bad signal to send the rest of the borough and I am happy to second Councillor Nicholl’s proposal.”
Councillor Nicholl’s proposal to adopt 20 per cent was carried by the committee.
The areas in Limavady considered amongst the most deprived are found in the Coolessan, Greystone, Roeside, Enagh and Dungiven areas.
The authors of a report prepared for councillors last year states: “A quarter of a million people (across NI) live in seriously deprived parts of our towns.”